As the threats from space debris continue to rise in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) as more and more satellites, rockets and hardware is launched, the India Space Research Organisation (Isro) is ready for the challenge.
A new facility dubbed the System for Safe & Sustainable Operation has been inaugurated in Bengaluru that will deal with emerging threats from space debris.
The new facility will help India achieve its Space Situational Awareness (SSA) goals by providing comprehensive and timely information about the space environment. The system will alert the agency about probabilities of in-orbit collisions, fragmentation, atmospheric re-entry risk, space-based strategic information, hazardous asteroids and space weather forecasts.
“Isro has been taking necessary measures to safeguard all its space assets from intentional and accidental close approaches by space objects including operational spacecraft and space debris objects,” Dr Jitendra Singh, Minister of Science & Technology said.
He added that Space Situational Awareness activities have many strategic implications, such as identifying and monitoring other operational spacecraft with close approaches, having overpass over the Indian region, intentional manoeuvres with suspicious motives and re-entry within the Indian region.
The IS4OM facility can support all routine operations safeguarding Indian space assets, mitigating collision threats from space objects through specific collision avoidance manoeuvres, information required for strategic purposes and research activities in Space Debris and Space Situational Awareness.
The centre has highlighted the need for setting up necessary Indian observational facilities for continuously tracking assets in space and that the Long-Term Sustainability (LTS) of Outer Space activities is of paramount importance to ensure that outer space remains utilizable to the future generations of mankind.
“The importance of radars and optical telescopes as the main ground-based facilities for tracking space objects including space debris needs to be highlighted, as accurate orbital information from such ground-based sensors is a prerequisite for mitigating any collision threats to an operational space asset from other objects,” the minister said.
Meanwhile, Isro chief S Somnath elaborated on the need for tracking facility adding that infrastructure for Space Weather monitoring and forecast plays a critical role in protecting space-based as well as ground-based infrastructure from critical Solar activities. On an equal footing, detection and prevention of asteroid impacts are essential for human welfare.
It is worth mentioning that the Indian space agency is an active member of the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IDAC), IAF Space Debris Working Group, IAA Space Traffic Management Working Group, ISO Space Debris Working Group and UNCOPUOS long-term sustainability Working Group all international organisations contributing to the space debris studies and space situational awareness.